We Don't Need Other Names

I have a well-founded fear of motorbikes. Add that my fear of heights, small spaces and life sized stuffed animals and you can see why my life is one exhilarating experience! I have no need for extreme sports when I can walk along the streets of Kampala and get that same Adrenalin rush. Come to think of it, why would any African indulge in extreme sports? We are already living in the edge as it is… Fear of bikes aside, earlier in the week I took a boda to work and almost died because of my name.

My friend and I were actually waiting for a matatu but this boda guy stopped in front of us and promised to charge us the same as a matatu would have. Since there was a bit of traffic and I really needed to get on with slaying some dragons, I decided to hop on. Being the friendly Ugandan he is, the boda guy asked our names as we rode off into the sunrise (somehow that doesn’t quite sound right… sunrise). My friend gave him hers and he said it back, as if to test it out on his tongue.

I shouted out, “Ivy!”

He turned his head back and asked me to repeat my name. Apparently he hadn’t encountered an Ivy before and those two succinct syllables were strange to his ears. I shouted it back… and again. By then we were at a junction and since the boda guy was busy trying to catch my name, he didn’t see an oncoming car from the right. Just at the moment he got my name right, we found ourselves wedged between two cars, amidst great hooting and cussing. No one got hurt… and the boda guy yelled at the two drivers, calling them stupid (that is how you know an accident was not serious… when there is a lot of yelling on both sides).

For a while now I have been debating dropping my English name and settling for just Muthoni. Or ‘Noni’ to my friends. No one calls me Noni though, except my mum. I think it would catch on with time, though. If I was a Muthoni, maybe the boda guy would have caught my name instantly and I would have one less near death experience.

I have been going through this whole africanisation phase where I want to grow out my natural hair, wear print, use my African name, listen to local music… I met a lady a few weeks ago who phrased it so well, “We don’t need other names.”

This could very well be an identity crisis. All the same, I am practising introducing myself as Muthoni. Who knows, the people I meet in the next ¾ of my life may get the hang of calling me by it. It’s not the most glamorous of names… in fact it has no real meaning. However, it belonged to my grandmother and that certainly counts for something.


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The Motherhood Fairy

Today as I walked to work I was musing about my skinny arms and how they rightly describe my physical strength. It got me to wondering how I will ever manage motherhood with such feeble arms. Even holding infants tires me after a while. I have this theory that motherhood equips you with super powers. The moment you push that baby out, there is a glowing light that only you can see and the motherhood fairy blasts you with her wand, making you invincible.

From then on, you acquire super human physical strength. Your baggage:body weight ratio can now exceed an ant's. Physical ailments can't hold you down any more. You lose all sense of gullibility and can suddenly see through all the BS. Suddenly you have an ability to see the best in this one human being no matter what the rest of the world sees.

The basis of this theory is my mother. She is the strongest person I know, both physically and emotionally. My mum can lift a 90 kg bag of maize flour that would leave many young men panting. She can work all day tirelessly, only taking time off for a cup of tea now and then. She has heard every smart-ass lie my siblings and I could ever conjure and seen through them all. She stubbornly gets her way with everyone. There's no point in getting mad and refusing to talk to her because she has this amazing ability to carry on and not notice your tantrum.


I look at her and know that it will take no less than a magical, wand waving fairy to change me into anything close to her by the time I have my own children. Fortunately, if said fairy doesn't exist, I have mum to teach me. Hopefully, 5, 10 years from now I'll look in the mirror and see half the woman she is.

In the mean time, my super powers go as far as my ability to do my own box braids. I have had them on for two weeks now and surprisingly, people love them!

This goes to Mummy dearest, who is currently going against every thing I asked and making my graduation party next week into a regional event! How did my guest list of 20 get here?

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It Ain't Fun!

Fun || Paramore
Funny how they call it the pearl of Africa when there are no street lights. Aren't pearls supposed to be brilliant? Don’t mind me, I am not in the best mood at the moment. I have to get down to writing some reports for work… and I am actually glad for the chance to put all my concentration into that and not have to think about anything else. I’ll probably be able to push that into the better part of the weekend. And when that is done I can pour my heart and soul into cooking and making small meals for next week. I can also clean compulsively. Unfortunately, I braided my hair on Wednesday so I can’t turn the next idle day into wash day. What I am trying to put across is how mundane my life can be.

Strangely enough, 12 hours ago my life seemed pretty great and interesting and I couldn't wait for the weekend to begin. I had almost forgotten how that one person has the power to turn my most exciting day into another grey one using a simple statement, “Sorry, hun. I can’t make it.” But then again, the same person can turn the worst of days into a bearable one with a simple text. Ironic.
I read an article recently about how music lyrics are getting dumber with time. Apparently, as we stand, most music is at the IQ level of a second grader. I call this reverse evolution. We got to the smartest, most refined level as a species and now we are regressing. Didn't that happen to the Greeks too? Being an Indie fan, maybe my music passes for eighth grade IQ level, at least. It is depressing but not all hope is lost. For instance, I recently discovered Hopsin and ‘Ill Mind of Hopsin 5’ has become like a daily anthem. I think everyone should look it up and will probably be all the better for it.

I have come to the conclusion that I feel this disenchanted because this is like when the initial excitement of camping wears off and you now want to go back home to electricity, internet and sleeping indoors. I mean, I sleep indoors in Kampala too but I miss Nairobi now. I would almost trade the traffic to be able to drop into Ebrahims for almost anything I could need; to run into my best friend randomly on the streets and drop all other plans for the day; to catch up with my sister about her week; to sleep in my bed at home and to just have everyone I love close by. The fun of living in the real world is wearing off. No, Paramore… it ain't fun!

Hopefully (and seriously though!) this too shall come to pass and I’ll feel more like myself soon.

In other news, that feeling when you get your first pay-check before you have to pay the bills! Coincidentally, Bills by Lunchmoney Lewis is currently playing. I wonder what IQ level the lyrics are…

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